The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council have agreed on a resolution that will require Syria to give up its chemical weapons, but the text will not threaten the use of force for a failure to comply, officials said.
The office of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, announced the deal. But the final version, which was to be discussed by the full 15-member Security Council on Thursday night, was not written under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, the strongest form of a council resolution because it can be enforced with military action.
That is a compromise with Russia, the Syrian government’s most powerful defender, which had said from the outset it would oppose a Chapter VII resolution, as it has repeatedly done throughout the divided Security Council’s efforts to forge a consensus on resolving the Syrian conflict.
The final draft also does not ascribe specific blame for the Aug. 21 attack that asphyxiated hundreds of Syrians near Damascus, Syria, another compromise with the Russians, who have repeatedly said they believe that Syrian insurgents carried it out.
Still, diplomats said, the final draft does express the Security Council’s “strong conviction” that those found responsible for chemical weapons use in the Syrian conflict should be held accountable. Before the Security Council votes on the measure, an organization in The Hague will have to determine procedures for ridding Syria of its chemical weapons.
The draft resolution’s compliance provision is modeled along the agreement reached nearly two weeks ago by Russia and the United States that commits Syria to surrender its chemical weapons by the middle of 2014. In the event Syria fails to comply, the draft asserts, the Security Council would then reconvene to impose unspecified measures under Chapter VII.
Diplomats said incomplete components of the resolution included precisely how Syria’s weapons stockpile would be destroyed, partly because the Security Council was still awaiting a document from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the group based in The Hague that monitors the Chemical Weapons Convention. But the Russians have said they would insist that the banned munitions must be destroyed inside Syria.
Russia Today, a government-run news website, quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov on Thursday as saying that Russian forces could be used in guarding chemical weapons facilities where dismantling and destruction work was carried out. He also suggested that other members of the Chemical Weapons Convention should “seriously consider the possibility of taking part in this process.”